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This book reveals complex agricultural methods and dynamic farming strategies which evolved long before colonial intervention or recent development projects. These indigenous systems created spectacular landscapes, with terrace walls to conserve the soiland hill-furrow irrigation to supplement low or seasonal rainfall, thus allowing intensive exploitation of all usable land. Mulch or animal manure were applied to boost fertility on regularly planted fields. Labour, communal tasks and the allocation of land and water required social organisation and the use of sanctions. The studies examine 'islands' where intensive devices and integrated systems have been developed and maintained. Sometimes they are in relatively isolated and arid localities but are able to support surprising concentrations of population. These islands of intensive local cultivation are surrounded by a low-density 'sea' of livestock-herders or extensive cultivators. Islands in the Eastern Rift Valley and flanking highlands - Iraqw in Tanzania, Marakwet in Kenya and Konso in Ethiopia - are illustrated by geographers and anthropologists applying an historical perspective. The archaeological example is of Engaruka in a dry stretch of the Rift in northern Tanzania where a cluster of nucleated villages with skilfully engineered irrigation thrived between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Published in association with The British Institute in Eastern Africa
North America: Ohio U Press; Uganda: Fountain Publishers; Kenya: EAEP

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780852554289
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
Publication date: 01/23/2004
Series: Eastern African Studies Series
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.43(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

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